Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Jordanian Seventh - and Eleventh-Grade Students' Views on Citizenship Education

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Jordanian Seventh - and Eleventh-Grade Students' Views on Citizenship Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

The "Goals of 2002" document, established by Jordan's Ministry of Education and state educators, sets a national expectation of citizenship education for the public school. Specifically, Goal 3 of the document anticipated that by the beginning of the 21st Century, Jordanian students would leave grades four, eight, and twelve with demonstrated competency in core content areas, "so that they may be prepared for responsible citizenship" (Ministry of Education, 2012, p. 6).

The Jordan Ministry of Education aims to produce a citizen who is loyal to the homeland and nation; endowed with good virtues and human warmth; and physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially mature. It also endeavors to help young children comprehend facts, concepts, and relations connected with the natural environment. Both local and globally, students' values and good traits contribute to developing an appreciation of the present through an understanding of their heritage; recognizing their civil rights; developing their abilities to collect, store, retrieve, treat, and produce information; and employing that information to explain phenomena and make decisions. The development of good citizens, therefore, constitutes knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes, which are the basic objectives of the citizenship curriculum in Jordan middle and high schools. (Ministry of Education, 2012).

The citizenship education textbook is the only resource of knowledge, values, trends, and various different skills for the students. Consequendy, the citizenship textbooks are designed to provide young children with a wellformed knowledge base relating to the characteristics of the effective and good citizen (Al-Barkat & Al-Karasneh, 2005).

Schooling in all societies purports to teach students the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to function as responsible citizens. In a democratic society, schools translate these curricular goals into knowledge of the community, nation, and world. Schooling also translates to the skills required to participate competendy within the larger society. It also helps promote and protect one's interests and the democratic attitudes that form the bases for decision making on one's behalf, while keeping in mind the larger context of the common good (Chiodo & Martin, 2005).

Citizenship first and foremost refers to a citizen's rights and obligations in society, but also to practices that make individuals competent members of a community. The global context of citizenship is changing as the nation-state is changing; therefore, the concept of citizenship has become the focus of both political and academic discourse (Chiodo & Martin, 2005).

Through schooling, students gain an understanding of the concept of citizenship in order to comprehend democracy; however, conceptual understanding of citizenship is not enough. John Patrick (1999) states that "students need to move beyond conceptual understanding of citizenship to learning experiences that develop participatory skills and civic dispositions for exercising the rights and carryout the responsibilities and duties of citizenship in a democracy" (p. 2). Developing a conception of citizenship and fostering the growth of civic values are central foci of our schools today (Galston, 2001). It is important to note that the home, mosque, church, and community organizations contribute to students' knowledge of citizenship. A primary focus of public schools and social studies teachers, however, is to cultivate the concept of citizenship in children. This, therefore, would determine how Jordanian students view the concept of the citizenship as important, if curricula and teaching in the schools are to be improved.

Significance of the Study

This study was undertaken to discover how students define citizenship, perceive "good" citizen actions, and what knowledge they need to be good citizens. Such information is valuable if teachers are to fulfill their obligation to educate and instill skills and values necessary to produce responsible citizens. …

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